Vale Bruce Hamlin – Australian Beatle Collector

Some very sad news has come through that the well-known and repsected Australian Beatle expert Bruce Hamlin has passed away.

Bruce ran the The Beatles Records Information Service, and he issued regular and comprehensive updates to his many email newsletter subscribers – right up until the last.

In 1981 Bruce wrote a compendium, the first of its kind for this country. It details the Beatles’ released catalogue in Australia. Called simply The Beatles Records in Australia, his book pulled together their complete discography to that date. It was self-published and limited to just 450 copies, but it stands as a unique record for collectors.

Bruce was also a supporter and regular at the many record fairs in the greater Sydney area, always there with a Beatle-themed stall and always willing to chat and share his considerable knowledge of the Beatles and their solo releases. 

Like me Bruce lived on the northside of the city and I would regularly bump into him at local garage or yard sales. Like me too he was always on the lookout for second-hand treasures, and to be honest my heart would sink if I saw that Bruce had arrived before me at a sale as I knew it would have been well picked over and that he would have found anything worth finding there! We’d still stop and have a chat and pass the time of day though. We’d talk about the latest Beatle news, and then be on our way.

The local representatives at EMI would often utilise Bruce’s expert knowledge and his extensive record collection, not only for sound but also vision. They’d come to him for advice and in 1983 he helped compile a unique Australian LP release called The Number Ones. It contained 23 Beatle songs (including three songs on a special bonus EP) that made it to the number one position on the Australian charts.

EMI Australia would also sometimes ask Bruce to appear in local promotional videos – like this one from May last year for the 50th Anniversary Edition release of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Looking back at the video again it’s clear that Bruce had not been well. However, in his regular newsletters he never overtly came out and said that he was in a life and death battle. On the contrary, he always appeared eternally optimistic. Take this email from as recently as January 15 this year where he lists all the significant Australian Beatle release anniversary dates for 2018, and is looking forward with enthusiasm to likely new releases and reissues:

Well here we are at the beginning of another Beatles year..

First up, our Australian 50th anniversary of releases in 1968:

8 Feb – GEPO 70044 Norwegian Wood (EP)

22 Feb  – PCSO 7533 The Beatles Greatest Hits Vol 1 – after 20 months, finally in stereo!!

14 Mar – MMT 1 Magical Mystery Tour (EP)

14 Mar – SMMT 1 Magical Mystery Tour (EP in stereo)

29 Mar – A 8293 Lady Madonna/The Inner Light

16 May – PMCO 7016 A Collection Of Beatles Oldies – held over for a year

16 May – PCSO 7016 A Collection Of Beatles Oldies – and in stereo

4 July – GEPO 80045 Penny Lane (EP)  (the last of the original ep’s)

20 Sept – A 8493 Hey Jude/Revolution

26 Sept – APPLE 8526 Those Were The Days/Turn Turn Turn – Mary Hopkin

10 Oct – APPLE 8537 Sour Milk Sea/The Eagle Laughs At You – Jackie Lomax

4 Dec – PMCO 7067-8 The Beatles (the double white album)

4 Dec – PCSO 7067-8 The Beatles (double White in stereo)

So that’s 13 reasons to party down in 2018. Especially for those of us who were around then.

For those not around here are some 40th Anniversaries to celebrate – 1978:

9 Jan – 2001 751 Sneaking Sally Through The Ally/Tango All Night – Ringo

23 Mar – A 11687 With A Little Luck/Backwards Traveller-Cuff Link – Wings

3 Apr – PAS 10012 London Town – Wings

29 May – 2310 599 Bad Boy – Ringo

19 Jun – A 11746 I’ve Had Enought/Deliver Your Children – Wings

21 Aug – A 11787 London Town/I’m Carrying – Wings

28 Aug A 12000 Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band/With A Little Help From My Friends/Within You, Without You

9 Oct – 2001 787 Lipstick Traces/Bad Boy – Ringo

29 Nov – BC 13 The Beatles Collection (13 lps in imported box)

29 Nov – PSLP 261 Rarities – included in the above box set.

4 Dec – P 256 Wings Greatest – Wings

Another 11 parties to be had.

So what can we expect in 2018 ?? I very much doubt we will get another Beatle to tour our country.

Ringo’s 2 most popular albums are due for the 180g treatment on 26 January, Ringo and Goodnight Vienna. So that will really kick the year off.

There should be another new album from Paul probably mid year. Supposedly with a TRUMP comment included on it.

Another Archive Series box set – maybe Red Rose Speedway – it’s overdue.

After the Christmas singles box set just released, expect the album for next Christmas, the American version for America and the UK version for the rest of the world, so you have to buy it twice. If we are lucky the CD release will wait until 2019 and again with the 2 different covers. Double dipping into our pockets yet again.

3 more of Yoko’s early albums, on white vinyl, black vinyl and CD, all nicely remastered by Sean.

John’s Imagine album is due for the ‘Archive’ style treatment, I wonder if they will do a good a job as Vigotone did with 5 CD’s worth of unreleased material!!

Expect Sean to have several more side projects popping up and Dhani probably will have at least one new release in 2018.

Now that Paul’s current world tour is almost over, perhaps a live album and DVD!

And it’s still only mid January.

Hurstville Record Fair on 14 February.

Cheers till next time,

Bruce

I think you can detect above an essence of optimism in that newsletter, a continuing energy and love of the band that he’d followed so closely since his early teens and for all his adult life.

I was very saddened to hear the news of Bruce’s passing and my condolences go out to his family for their loss. Bruce will be missed. His energy, enthusiasm and knowledge about the band he loved so dearly was extraordinary.
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McCartney’s ‘Pipes of Peace’ – Original Labels

Looking at the recently released Capitol Records coloured (and black) vinyl reissue of the Paul McCartney Pipes of Peace LP, we got thinking about the labels used for the original release back in 1983.

This is the label style used on both sides of the 2017 version:

As you can see, the custom designed labels are similar thematically (but not exactly the same) as those used for Side 2 of the 1983 vinyl release:

The chrome-plated chair image is larger and positioned differently, plus it has a different musical instrument on it.

But it’s the labels used for Side 1 in 1983 that fascinate.

For some reason Side 1 in each of the major markets around the world featured vintage depictions of either Parlophone or Odeon record labels (for those territories outside the US), or Columbia Records for the United States (becasue that was the label McCartney was signed to there at the time).

Here, for example, is the Side 1 label used in the UK – a vintage Parlophone in deep maroon:

And here’s the label used in the US, which was done in the style of an old-fashioned Columbia release:

In Australia it was a vintage Parlophone – done in a dark brown and gold:

For Europe, where the Odeon label was used to release EMI titles, they used a vintage version too. Here’s the one for Germany:

And Spain of course:And here’s the label used in France for Side 1. Unusually, it’s a vintage Parlophone – which is strange becasue you’d think it would more likely be on Odeon too:

It was definitely vintage Odeon for Japan: And in New Zealand it was a Parlophone: 

These next few are from smaller territories where we’re pretty sure that on both sides of the disc the  labels used were both the same. If you happen to have any further info on these please get in touch using the “Leave a Reply” section below. First up, India:

We can confirm that The Philippines definitely used a vintage black and yellow Parlophone for both sides of the disc:

Malaysia:

And to some South American countries now – Argentina:

Uruguay:

Bolivia:

And lastly, Columbia, which interestingly seems to be serviced by both Parlophone and Columbia/CBS records:

If you’d like to see these labels in more detail, click on the images to bring up larger versions.

And if anyone knows just why Paul McCartney wanted to use vintage labels for Side 1 only of Pipes of Peace, please let us know by commening below.

Legendary Abbey Road Studio Recording Console to be Auctioned

It is best known as the mixing desk used to record Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, but this Abbey Road Studios EMI TG12345 MK IV Recording Console was also used by Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr on various solo projects between 1971-1983: 

The TG12345 MK IV, formerly housed in the famous Abbey Road Studio 2, is now up for sale as “Lot 35” in an upcoming Bonhams Auction event featuring a wealth of collectable rock music items. The console comes with letters concerning its provenance, including one from Ken Townsend, Abbey Road Studio manager at the time and future Chairman. Townsend worked with The Beatles as an engineer on numerous albums over the years. There’s a great little film about him here.

The auction will take place in New York on March 27. Click here for more details.

A Different Australian Pressing of the Beatles “From Liverpool” Box

In a previous post we mentioned an Australian pressing on the orange Parlophone label of The Beatles Box (or The Beatles From Liverpool as it is sometimes also known) eight-record box set. This was made available via The World Record Club to its members in March, 1981.the-beatles-liverpoolbeatles-from-liverpool-label

We already had a later version that EMI distributed in November, 1982 through the Reader’s Digest organisation in Australia. That one comes with custom black, white and red Reader’s Digest labels. For more images also see here.beatles-readers-digest-label

The Reader’s Digest set is further distinguished by different packaging. Instead of a flip-top lid it came in a two box arrangement, where an inner box containing the records slides into an outer casing.

In Australia there is a third variation. It is the same 1981 World Record Club release but instead of orange Parlophone labels it is on black and silver Parlophone labels. It’s this version we have just added to the collection. It comes in a lift-top hinged box: liverpool-box-frontliverpool-box-labelloverpool-box-lid

On top of the records there’s a large fold-out poster:

liverpool-box-poster

Like the other releases each disc comes in a custom colour printed sleeve: liverpool-box-1

On the flip side of each is a track-listing and a short article about the songs and what was happening in Beatles history at the time of the recordings by Hugh Marshall:liverpool-box-1a

There are eight discs in all:liverpool-box-2 liverpool-box-3 liverpool-box-4 liverpool-box-5 liverpool-box-6 liverpool-box-7 liverpool-box-8

(Click on an image to see a larger version)

This set has the catalogue number WRC/Parlophone R91103-10.

 

Imitation is the Sincerest Form of Flattery – The EMI Manchester Square Photos

Here’s a further instalment in our occasional series on Beatle (and Beatle-related) album covers or photographs that, over the years, have been borrowed as inspiration by others.

As observed on reddit recently, it’s a surprise that more bands haven’t used this iconic LP cover photograph as inspiration:pleasepleaseme

Given that Sgt Pepper, The White Album and Let It Be have all been imitated many times in one way or another by so many bands, why not the famous Please Please Me as well?

Maybe it’s because it would be limited only to EMI artists, and also that the actual building where the picture was taken now no longer exists…..

But still, there are a couple of examples out there. The Sex Pistols did it in 1977:sex-pistols-at-emi-1977

Then Blur in 1995:blur-at-emi

Even before The Beatles looked down from that balcony, the famous English bandleader Joe Loss (signed to the EMI subsidiary label HMV) did the same pose:joeloss-at-emi-1961

And in 1983 it was Dutch Beatle Fan Club President Har van Fulpern’s turn:

har_van_fulpen_dutch_beatles_fan_club_president_19When Universal Music re-issued the Beatles 1962-1965 (Red) and 1966-1970 (Blue) albums we posted some info on the Angus McBean photo shoot location here, including a video from a very keen fan who went to the trouble of tracking down the actual location of the shoot for the Red and Blue LPs – and of course for 1963’s Please Please Me release.

Both photographs of the old and new Beatles were taken at EMI’s former headquarters in Manchester Square, London – with the group looking down over the building’s stairwell. The building has since been demolished.red-frontblue-lpClick here for the other posts in “Imitation is the Sincerest Form of Flattery”.

“Great Record Labels” Book

Chanced upon a small local garage sale (or yard sale) this morning and found this book:great-labels-cover

Great Record Labels, written by Al Cimino and published by Chartwell Books in 1992, is quite an interesting overview of some of the most famous record companies, admittedly with a strong US bias. It has some really good images liberally scattered throughout, not only of the various record company labels themselves, but also many of the artists signed to the labels too.

Cimino has split his book into five broad categories covering music from the 1950’s through to the 1990’s. He starts with Sun Records in the Fifties, and ends with Def Jam in the Nineties, and works his way through most of the big labels in between – like Atlantic, Stax, Motown, Decca, A&M, CBS, Warner Brothers, Island, and Virgin – to name but a few.

There are two main segments of the book where The Beatles pop up. First is the chapter on the British EMI/Parlophone label:great-labels3great-labels4

In the section on EMI’s US subsidiary Capitol Records there is only fleeting reference to The Beatles, despite the huge amounts of money they made for the company:great-labels9

But to make up for that there’s no less than four pages dedicated to The Beatles’ own Apple Records:great-labels5great-labels6great-labels7great-labels8

Here’s the rear cover of Great Record Labels (the dust cover has seen better days…):great-labels-rearDespite being a little beat up, this is a nice little find and a good book to have in the collection.

John Lennon “Rip It Up – 15 Rock’n’Roll Greats”

Earlier this week we reported finally receiving a replacement copy of John Lennon’s Rock’n’Roll LP.

Well, the very next day we happened to be on the New South Wales central coast and popped in to one of the best second-hand vinyl stores around – The Sound Exchange Record Bar – at a place called Long Jetty.

And what should we find there but an almost mint copy of the hard-to-find, Australia-only, ultra-budget version of the very same record:Rip It Up

In 1988 EMI licensed the rights to Lennon’s Rock’nRoll album to the Australian specialty budget label, J&B Records:J&B Logo

J&B had a large catalogue back in the day, and sold most of their records through supermarkets and department stores. Everything from Glen Campbell to Connie Francis compilations. From Roy Orbison to the Village People. They had lots of well-known Australian artists in the catalogue as well: John Farnham, Glenn Shorrock (ex Little River Band), Dragon and Billy Field. So it was a surprise to see an artist like John Lennon in there too.

J&B called their record Rip It Up – 15 Rock’n’Roll Greats. This is exactly the same songs and running order of the original 1975 Apple Records release. Just the cover was changed. Here’s the rear cover:Rip It Up Rear

And the J&B label:Rip It Up Label

As you can see, no expense was spared on the artwork! Even so, this is a really good copy for its age – still glossy front cover, no ring wear, and the record itself looks almost unplayed.